AUTOPSY SHOWS CAUSE OF DEATH FOR COUNTY’S ARSON-INVESTIGATION CANINE

AUTOPSY SHOWS CAUSE OF DEATH FOR COUNTY’S ARSON-INVESTIGATION CANINE

A rupture in the intestinal lining caused last Friday’s death of Shela, the Doña Ana County Fire Marshal's trained arson-detection dog. An autopsy at Calista Animal Hospital in Las Cruces revealed that a portion of the intestine protruded through the rupture and twisted, blocking the dog’s ability to digest her food and eliminate waste. Surgery probably would not have saved her.

In April of 2004, Doña Ana County Fire Prevention Specialist Daniel Kolson traveled to Maine for a month to train with Shela, who was donated to Doña Ana County by State Farm Insurance Company. Kolson and the dog returned to Doña Ana County that May.

Kolson said Shela had surgery in early 2005 to remove a deflated balloon she had swallowed. When he took her to the veterinary clinic last week, he suspected she might have once again swallowed something indigestible. He treated her overnight with prescribed diuretics, but by morning her condition had not improved. She went into apparent cardiac arrest and died at 8:26 a.m. Friday, April 13, while awaiting surgery.

Shela had lived at Kolson’s home.

During her career with Doña Ana County, Shela helped solve a number of cases by either ruling out or confirming the presence of fire accelerants at the scene.

Doña Ana County Fire Marshal Paul Chavez said he would contact State Farm to see whether a replacement canine investigator can be obtained.

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Reporters seeking more information or interviews may call county Public Information Director Jess Williams at (505) 525-5801.